The 5 Paths of Yoga

What is meant by the paths of yoga?

Although there are many paths, they all lead to a common place. Typically a practitioner will choose one path that they relate to and it will inevitably lead to another.

For example as westerners we commonly choose hatha yoga, a physical path liberating the body, but that can lead to bhakti yoga, a yoga of devotion or Karma yoga, a yoga of selfless service (often the result of bhakti). The different paths are:

Bhakti Yoga:
Yoga of devotion to the divine, surrendering the ego. Those who follow this path often do so through song and chanting as they seek oneness with all creation.

Yoga does not tell you where to direct that devotion, or the specific methods by which you should do it. That is left to personal religious preference.

Karma Yoga:
Yoga of selfless service to those who are in genuine need of it. Someone who practices karma yoga also removes the ego from their service as they serve without need for thanks or personal benefit.

Hatha Yoga:
All yoga classes that combine pranayama (breath technique) and asana (postures) are renditions of hatha yoga. Ha means sun and Tha means moon. The goal is to liberate the body leading to a path of self awareness.

Jnana Yoga:
Is about cultivating knowledge. Followers contemplate scriptures in combination with meditation. "Through knowing that I am the same as pure consciousness, I achieve realization". Jnana yoga is known as the "treacherous path" and being so deep, it is commonly the last path achieved.

Raja Yoga:
In short, concentration and meditation, and is outlined in the eight limbs. If one is able to follow the five; yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, and pratyahara… dharana, Dhyana and Samahdi-bliss will inevitably follow.